Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Brutalist Dilemma


Yesterday morning, NPR featured a story about the Richard Neutra-designed Cyclorama, a commemorative visitor's center in Gettysburg located smack-dab in the middle of the battlefield. When the building was erected in 1961, everyone was like, "Yes. Let's pay tribute to this old shit with new shit." Present-day purists, however, are puking at the presence of the poured concrete palace.


This building is tight. My dad is a Civil War freak, and I spent many a 4th of July weekend during my childhood running around these hallways and wondering why the lettering on the Cyclorama's signage was so small, silver, and sans-serif-y. Could it be credited with inspiring my obsession with vintage, and in turn, my posting on the blog? Neutra: the father of Listopad.


JK, obviously: Cath and Kata started this blog. But if I may hop on my soapbox for a moment - I know that this building is totally offensive to people who see the battlefield as a hallowed historical ground, and who feel it should be kept as pristine as possible in an effort to honor the serious business that went down way back when. Maybe the Neutra building was a mistake. But the fact remains that it's there, and it's just as honest a testament to the past as the battlefield itself. Like it or not, the last three decades has infused the structure with valid historical significance. I'm a big hippie, I guess, because I don't see the point in ignoring that. Or maybe I'm selfishly upset that my nieces and nephews might not be able to see the hugeness that was the Civil War through the weird, fascinating mid-century lens that is the Cyclorama.

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